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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Revolt Against Congress: Bring It On

The following article is cross-posted from a DCorps e-blast:
New Democracy Corps Survey of the Battleground House Districts
The final Democracy Corps battleground survey of 2013 fielded just days after the ACA website fixes were launched–and in the midst of a serious debate in Washington and among pundits about the viability of the President’s signature healthcare law and what it might mean for 2014. However, even as pundits and politicians determined that the ACA website spelled disaster for Democrats in 2014, voters determined that they were unwilling to reward Republicans. Instead, the latest survey of the 50 most competitive Republican house districts and the 30 most competitive Democratic districts should provide a warning to pundits that it is the voters who will ultimately decide the balance of the House next November.
Key Points:
This poll is in the congressional battleground looking at named incumbents and is virtually the only window into what is really happening.
Yes, the health care roll-out and reduced presidential standing has hurt Democrats, but keep it in perspective:

  • Voters evenly divided on this issue; the big debate ends in a draw. Not a wedge issue.
  • Majority want to implement in Dem districts and plurality in Republicans
  • It is hurting the GOP image and re-enforcing that members are part of partisan battle
  • Keeps Republicans on their weakest case for their role
  • Setting up strong Democratic attack on Speaker Boehner’s failure to focus on economy and jobs
  • Gives Democrats opportunity to use to reach affected groups, particularly unmarried women
  • The big structural forces that leave the Tea Party Republican brand deeply tarnished are undiminished:

  • All incumbents damaged but Republicans even more so
  • Republicans at lowest point ever on all key metrics — compared to any prior election
  • Democrats have continuing brand advantage in these districts
  • Want members to work with Obama, not to keep stopping agenda
  • Serious plurality now ready to vote against member because they support Speaker Boehner and the impact on economy and jobs.
  • The vote is stable in the named ballot, but Republicans have weakened in the 2nd tier of less competitive seats — possibly indicative of growing vulnerability.
  • Democratic members feeling heat but a touch stronger, a majority want to implement and very positive response to their health care fix messages
  • There is now a singular message framework from this work: “Now is the time to vote out GOP incumbents for supporting Speaker Boehner whose policies have hurt the economy and done nothing about jobs”
  • Two big demographic dynamics that will determine what happens:

  • Seniors. Republicans trail their challenger among seniors in the Republican districts.
  • Unmarried women. If they turn out and vote as in 2012 and in Virginia in 2013, Democrats make major gains. They are underperforming now at 52 percent in Republican districts, but shift 9 points after health care debate and the race overall moves to even. That puts one-half of these 50 seats really at risk.
  • Women’s economic agenda at the center
  • See the presentation here
    Democracy Corps is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to making the government of the United States more responsive to the American people. It was founded in 1999 by James Carville and Stanley Greenberg. Democracy Corps provides public opinion research and strategic advice to those dedicated to a more responsive Congress and Presidency. Learn more at www.democracycorps.com.
    Women’s Voices Women Vote Action Fund (WVWVAF) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501 (c)(4) organization founded in 2005 and dedicated to increasing the voting participation and issue advocacy of unmarried women. Learn more at www.wvwvaf.org.
    Public Campaign Action Fund (PCAF) works to hold politicians who are against comprehensive campaign finance reform accountable for where they get their political donations. Learn more at www.campaignmoney.org.

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